As posted here, it took place at the Cafe Phipps. It's a very nice place, by the way. Very clean and warm. My Earl Grey (hot) cost me a buck thirty-nine, though.
By the time the meeting began at about 7:30 it was standing room only at the Cafe Phipps. Too many people, not enough chairs. There were college kids and Vietnam vets. People sipping coffee and others (inexplicably) chomping down on ice cream.
Ice Cream? In DECEMBER? What are these crazy radicals thinking??
Anyway, they were all there to hear City Councilman Bill Peduto. Speaking from notes and dressed in the by now ubiquitous political uniform (blue suit, white shirt, blue tie) Peduto outlined the issues on which his campaign will be focussed; the city's financial troubles, transit, civil liberties and so on.
And he began by pointing out an odd historical occurance. One short year ago, during the mayoral race, he said he was the "fresh young voice" in the race. One short year later and he's suddenly the "elder statesman," the voice of experience and reason.
He was very careful to point out that while Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is a good guy, the people surrounding him are the same people who've been in place in City Hall since Pete Flaherty roamed the halls.
If anything, there was one idea running throughout Peduto's speech. It was a comparison between what a Peduto campaign and administration will look like and what a Ravenstahl campaign and administration will look like. Peduto said his will be a "people's campaign" focussing on plans to invigorate all segments of the city. While concentrating on economic development throughout the city, a Peduto administration will also focus on civil liberties and embrace tolerance and diversity.
Peduto sought, also, to reassure the crowd that no matter what they may have heard recently, the race has yet to begin. He likened it to a football game where the first quarter hasn't even started yet. Extending the metaphor, he said it was really the pregame show, where they're merely discussing the game to come.
He said that he has 10,000 e-mail address of people to contact, 8,000 snail mail address of supporters from his previous campaign. He's planning on hitting the ground running, fully staffed when he announces sometime in January.
Peduto ended by saying that when Mayor Ravenstahl announced his campaign, he effectively "napalmed" the field. He did that because he wants "a one-on-one" with Peduto. Almost immediately after the crowd-free announcement, both State Rep Dan Frankel and Allegheny County President Rich Fitzgerald took themselves out of the race.
He's looking to announce his candidacy in January sometime - with a crowd of a thousand Pittsburghers around him.
A good way to launch a "people's campaign."